Demolition ‘will rip heart’ from village
MANY people would say the heart of a community is its shops, and that is why one councillor has condemned a decison to pull down a retail centre in Eldene.
A planning application to demolish the 1970s Eldene Shopping Centre has been submitted to Swindon Council by the authority.
Under the proposals the retail outlet will be ripped down as early as March 1.
This decision was first announced by Swindon Council last year as part of the new Morrison’s arriving in the area.
But Derique Montaut said it is another nail in the coffin for Eldene residents who found out that around £50,000 set aside to breathe fresh life into the tired village centre would not be allocated to the area.
Nearly two years ago, Councillor Rod Bluh, who was leader of the council at the time, announced that £900,000 would be spent on rejuvenating tired centres such as Covingham Square, Liden, Eldene, Toothill, Freshbrook and Guildford Avenue, in Lawn.
Earlier this year, that sum was slashed to £450,00 and Eldene residents were told they would not be receiving one penny of the investment.
It is argued that because a 25,000 sq ft Morrison’s superstore, with 250 car parking spaces, was going to be built on the former site of Dorcan House in Dorcan Way, the area no longer required funds from the council as this scheme is estimated to bring £15m-worth of investment and about 250 jobs to Swindon.
But Coun Montaut, who represents Liden, Eldene and Park South, disagrees. He said the move is going to destroy the heart of the village.
“I’m concerned for people in Eldene,” said Coun Montaut.
“There is no guarantee that it won’t be left as a building site. There were all sorts of big plans for this area and now they are getting nothing. People have gone back on their words and I think everybody feels very let down.
“The shopping centre is in the heart of the community. The council has a moral duty to their local residents to ensure there are community facilities.”
Councillor Dale Heenan, cabinet member for strategic planning and sustainability, said “Residents can now see for themselves the millions invested in the new site by Morrisons.
“The existing businesses at Eldene Centre are relocating across the road, and it is shaping up to be quite a smart site which does look like the original artist’s impression that was promised. In the year ahead, Swindon Council will consider plans for the future of the Eldene centre site and most importantly the community centre.
“With 200 new jobs on the way, I think Coun Montaut needs to reflect on his New Year’s resolutions because being positive for his area and less emotive sniping should be at the top of his list to start 2014.”
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